Haze update: A different weekend for outdoor-lovers

Fitness buffs, shoppers plan to stay indoors; some going on snap holidays

It is going to be a decidedly different sort of weekend for outdoor-loving Singaporeans, with families, exercise enthusiasts and shoppers saying they are going to stay indoors as far as possible.

Others who do not want to face that prospect are fleeing the place - having booked snap holidays.

"We normally spend time together during weekends having a meal at a hawker centre or going for a stroll in the park," businessman Chan Yeow Chong, 54, said of his family.

"Now, we are just going to spend that time inside shopping centres, where there is air-conditioning."

His daughter Su Ann, 22, who usually runs at least twice a week, has stopped exercising entirely.

"You cannot do anything outdoors. The haze is so bad," she said.

Other fitness buffs are making changes to their routine.

"It is safer to stay indoors and lift weights," said Mr Roger Fock, 30, an IT consultant who normally runs, swims or plays basketball on weekends.

Frequent runner Fauziah Said, 41, wears an N95 mask on her outdoor runs. "The mask is uncomfortable to wear, and I will take it off and put it back on repeatedly while I am running," she said.

Those who enjoy the nightlife in Singapore will also change their plans. Miss Julienne Cheok, 21, said she would definitely not be going to an outdoor or open-air bar this weekend. "Even if the bar is enclosed, but there is no door to shut the haze out, I will only stay for a short while," she said.

Mr Asyraf Aliman said that he and his girlfriend Haziratul Hamid, both 22, might go bowling or watch a movie.

"Actually, the activity doesn't matter, as long we have each other for company," he said.

Meanwhile, some are choosing to fly out of Singapore to enjoy a break from the pollution that hit another record high yesterday.

Travel agency SA Tours said that over the past couple of days, about 10 per cent more customers than usual have been inquiring about quick getaways.

Flight search website Skyscanner said it had seen about 20 per cent more flight searches, especially from families. The most popular destinations searched were Bali, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Ms Mavis Ang, 26, and her friends made a snap decision yesterday afternoon to book coach tickets to Kuala Lumpur, leaving the same night.

"It is funny. We would usually get off the coach and say KL's air is terrible. But now, we are going there for better air."

Even those who cannot get away have got creative. Retiree couple Albert and Doreen Teo, both in their 60s, spent their Friday at Changi Airport.

"It is very expensive switching on the air-con the whole day. Since the haze has been so awful the last two days, my wife suggested for us to come to the airport and enjoy the air-con," said Mr Teo, chuckling.

They arrived at 1pm and had lunch, before strolling about the three terminals. They sat down to people-watch at about 4pm, and said they would return home for dinner.

"Maybe we will come back here tomorrow with our friends," said Mrs Teo.

arafdhal@sph.com.sg

qnwong@sph.com.sg

fabkoh@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Charissa Yong and Bryna Singh